Top-Secret Spirits You Can Only Get at the Airport (Thrillist)

As if you needed an excuse to leave holiday shopping until the absolutely, positively very last minute, here’s your new strategy: As you’re jetting out of town, shop at the airport for special bottles of liquor.

Most likely, you already know that duty-free stores at international airports offer a modest 10% to 20% discount on bottles, because they’re priced without the tax (aka the “duty” in duty free). 

But you may not realize that spirits producers – even some hyper-local craft distilleries – release special bottles that are only available at the airport, a category known as Global Travel Retail (GTR). 

Among these, local craft spirits may be your best bet for scooping up a truly unique bottle that can’t be procured anywhere else. For example, it was a rude awakening for me to spot Allen Katz, founder of New York Distilling Company, posing on social media with bottles of his cask-strength Ragtime Rye and Perry’s Tot Rose-infused overproof gin …. at Terminal 4 at JFK’s duty-free shop. 

There’s not much made by the Brooklyn distillery that I haven’t tried. For sure I’ve quaffed my share of Dorothy Parker gin martinis, many sitting at the distillery’s Shanty bar. 

But I’d never seen these bottles anywhere else in New York – and I wasn’t going to, Katz explained: these were strictly Travel Retail exclusives. “[It] creates a link to our home base here in New York,” he told me. But the offerings aren’t meant for the home team.